Why the Death Penalty Should Be Legal

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How are we going to reform criminals when we kill them? Widespread prison reform and an updated U.S. justice system is the answer - not an antiquated, unfair death penalty. The death penalty should not be legal in any state, keeping the death penalty equates to telling people that it’s okay to kill others and not suffer the same fate or why the death penalty should be legal ? Prison should be a place where help is given to those that need it the most. While the death penalty is still in effect in some states there is still rampant crime. Getting the death penalty which is like a slap on the wrist should not be the answer to major crimes, individuals need to come to realization that if you do the crime you have to do the time.

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When sitting in jail for years, it actually makes the criminal think about what he or she has done and they actually suffer worse knowing that they will never get out. Sitting behind bars for years after years can drive a person insane, not being able to see your family when you want, having to wake up and go to sleep when being told to can get very frustrating and overwhelming. Sitting for years and thinking about the bad choices you made and regretting what you did, is by far the worst punishment of them all.

By people being able to think about what they did over a long period of time and eventually being able to share with others how hard it was to deal with that everyday should make other people not want to commit any crimes that would get them hard time in jail. On the other hand, by letting people think that it’s okay to just kill someone and they just get sentenced to death is no punishment, some people are on death row for years after years. Rehabilitation is the answer, the U.S. justice system should completely look into it and make all inmates go through a checkpoint process system to show the progress they have made . Rehabilitation is the action of restoring someone to health or normal life through training and therapy after imprisonment, addiction, or illness. Instead of criminals being sentenced to the death, they should be sent to jail where they serve the rest of their lives and get the help they need. For example, The War on Drugs is a national crisis. When going to prison for drug problems, users should go to rehabilitation centers to help their problem and not be given years in prison for a problem. In Jefferson Parish there is an effective Diversion Program, which has grown popularity over the US. The program is effective in a way where it stops drug abuse and it keeps them out of prison. According to a 1972 US Supreme Court decision, the death penalty is a cruel and unusual punishment. They site the 8th and 14th amendment. Those two amendments grants protection to criminals. The 14th amendment guarantees equal protection under the law, which explains why in the supreme court chose to use those two amendments to stop the death penalty.

Thirty- seven years ago, Larry Hicks was sentenced to death. He was charged with two counts of murder. After carefully reading an article called “ The Ordeal of Larry Hicks’’, it informed me that Hicks was wrongfully convicted. Hicks was a young african- american male, who was not very wealthy. There was hard evidence where Hicks was nowhere near the crime scene at the time of the murder, was in fact at his home during the time of the stabbing. Later when scientific forensics analysis proved that Larry was actually telling the truth about what he had already told the police. Following Larry’s last trial date, his defense team proved his innocence, and he was released from prison in 1981. He served about 3 years in prison, after being wrongfully accused of stabbing and killing two men.

In my research, the death penalty targets “ poor people’’. In the article mentioned above was a “poor’’ man. According to the new article “ It’s Time To Kill The Death Penalty”, it says that out of 22,000 murders each year in the U.S. about one percent results in death sentences. Also it says that, “ blacks make up 12 percent of the U.S. population but they make up 48 percent of those on death row”. After reading and going over the OJ Simpson case, it just reminds me why this article I read was right. OJ Simpson was a professional football player and he was accused of brutally murdering his ex-wife. He was a very wealthy man, and also had great lawyers. Simpson’s lawyer received five million dollars for defending him. The article has a saying that seems to be very much true. The saying is, “ In the U.S. , you’re better off, if you’re in the system being guilty and rich than being innocent and poor”. If you have money you won’t be on death row, billionaires and also millionaires are not on death row.

The death penalty was used to stop the murders from happening. Based on Berry’s belief about the death penalty, after reading the article that agreed with how americans felt. In the article titled “The Death Penalty Models the Behavior it Seeks to Prevent”, the article explains how it models the very behavior it seeks to prevent. Meaning, the death penalty was designed to stop or scare people to not murder anyone but it’s actually going against what it was really meant for. According to american novelist Wendell Berry, “Violence breeds violence. Acts of violence committed in ‘justice’ or in affirmation of ‘rights’ or in defense of ‘peace’ do not end violence. They prepare and justify it’s continuation.” For example, if Wendell’s parents were to hit each other and he watches them hit each other and he grows up doing the same thing to his family because of what he see goes in his household. There is an old saying and it’s “ monkey see, monkey do”, that clearly explains what Wendell was saying when he said, “ violence breeds violence”.

If the death penalty models the behavior it seeks to prevent, why have it? There are other options other than killing someone because they murdered someone. The crime is not being stopped, it’s on going crime. According to an article, titled “ arguments against the death penalty”. The article states, “ No-one has ever proven with numbers that killing murderers stops other people committing similar crimes”. This completely explains that having the death penalty does not stop people from committing the exact same crimes or committing crimes that are ten times worse.

When murderers are put on death row, it takes years. From a reading, an inmate named Michael Ross was on death row for seventeen years. When inmates are on death row for years at a time, it is costing taxpayers way too much money each year. According to the article, it says that, inmates who are on death row have separate housing from the regular inmates who are not on death row. To support, it says “ A 1982 study showed that were the death penalty to be reintroduced in New York, the cost of the capital trial alone would be more than double the cost of a life term in prison”.

From the research, a life term sentence in prison costs taxpayers about $740,000, while capital cases cost 1.26 million. Also in a reading, in 2011, in California it was said that “TaxPayers for Justice put repeal of the death penalty on the ballot for 2012 in part because of the high cost documented by a recent.” The money that people pay could be used to something more positive. Programs to help the inmates are positive ways to make a change in society. Also they can get the inmates mental help if needed, and they can also get them enrolled into classes that helps with the crimes that they have committed. Positive ways are the best ways to make a change in the world. Killing people because they murdered someone else is not the way to actually stop the crime. Crime is everywhere, maybe more in some places but everywhere has crime. In California they have 714 inmates who are on death row and they have been for years. Taxpayers are spending 90,000 more per year than a prisoner in general population.

When reading an article titled “ The psychological impact of living in the shadow of execution”, it explains the mental of a prisoner. As mentioned above in one of the paragraphs, it explains how prisoners have to live with what they did, miserably. After going over this article, it says “ This bleak isolation and years of torturous uncertainty can result in a sharp deterioration in a prisoner’s mental and physical state, often making inmates suicidal.” This means when sitting for long periods of time, not knowing when you will get out and thinking about why you are in prison can make you want to commit suicide. Suicide is the act of someone taking their own life. From the onset of this paper, sitting and thinking about what you have done could be the worst punishment of them all. Killing someone does not stop the crime, but when hearing someone on death row commits suicide can turn the thoughts and open the eyes of other people. By turning thoughts means not thinking about doing the same crime or saying no to crime all together.

Mental illness can be described in many different ways. From doing research, there was a man named William Morva. Mora brutally murdered two people in Virginia. He murdered an unarmed security guard and a Sheriff's deputy. William was said to be mentally ill. Mental disorders are usually defined by a combination of how a person behaves, feels, perceives, or thinks. In William’s case he suffered from an illness of “schizotypal personality disorder,” a condition characterized by “odd beliefs.” Later after reviewing Morva more it was said that he a suffered with an illness called, “ delusional disorder”. Delusional disorder is an illness that is a thought disorder, mood disorder, or significant flattening of affect. Delusions are a specific symptom of psychosis. To explain psychosis, psychosis is a mental disorder which is characterized by a disconnection from reality. Does Morva really deserve to die? Or does he deserve help?

After reading an article it says, “Executing people whose disorders or disabilities significantly impair their ability to appreciate the nature of their conduct, exercise rational judgment, or conform their behavior to the requirements of the law is fundamentally inconsistent with the retributive and deterrent goals of the death penalty.” This means that you shouldn’t execute someone with a mental disorder. People with mental disorders don’t know what they are doing or are not in the right state of mind when they are doing it. Although the crime they commit isn’t right, evaluating prisoners who have mental health issues may justify why they made the decision they made, it could also make sense to others why they did it. After reading and doing research on mentally ill people, it says mentally challenged people are put under psychiatric treatment until their mental health is restored. Everyone may believe that prisoners with mental illnesses are getting off on the crimes they commit, but in reality they are getting the help they need. After medical experts feel and believe that they are mentally fit to face the judge and ready for sentencing, they will be sentenced. According to the introduction and the beginning of the paper, help and rehabilitation was the main focus.

Prisoners come from many different backgrounds and all of their childhoods are very much different. According to an article, a caucasian man named Raymond Tibbett was sentenced to death after fatally stabbing Fred Hicks in 1977. Also Hicks received life imprisonment after beating and stabbing his wife, due to an argument about her addiction to crack cocaine. After reviewing Hick’s childhood he and his sibblings were tied to a single bed at night, were not fed properly, were thrown down stairs, had their fingers beaten with spatulas and were burned on heating registers. Going through such things when coming up as a child can scar a person forever, though the crimes he committed were not right, he also went through very traumatic things in his life as a boy.

Nobody knows what goes on in other people’s households and how that could affect them as growing into their adulthood. After getting professional medical opinions on childhood traumas, it says “ Experiencing physical, sexual, or emotional abuse (referred to as “trauma”) during childhood is known to have predictable immediate and distal impacts on personality development”. Also, “ Traumatic abuse that occurred when the victim was a child or adolescent (i.e., before age 18) has been found to increase the risk for violent and aggressive behavior and criminality in adulthood”. This proves the point of being physically abused or having traumatic abuse while a child can affect you in adulthood. When a juror reviewed his records and read about his childhood, the juror brought it to the judge and in front the court again. The statement from Hick’s was taken into consideration and the judge reduced his sentence to life imprisonment, without parole.

After reading more cases where childhood traumas has affected life in adulthood, three really stood out and explains more about what the medical experts said above. Michael Brawner, Richard Smith, and Steven Woods, all were physically abused by their father. They all committed crimes but only one was showed the mercy. From reading the article, it says “ these men committed serious crimes. But, as boys, they also suffered horrific childhood abuse, and their death sentences (and in some cases executions) make a mockery of the notion that we “dispense mercy”, or that we are limiting capital punishment to the worst possible offenders”. Richard Smith was the only man who was lucky enough to get his sentence reduced to life without parole. Smith was the only one to get a chance to better himself, and get the help he actually needed. Being physically abused as a child can really mess up a child growing into an adult mental state. Unfortunately Woods and Brawner didn’t get chance to make their self better, they both were executed.

Also, another statement from the article really stood out to me. It says, “ those who end up on death row are not the worst offenders, but those who experienced the worst childhoods, or had the worst (or non-existent) mental health care, or were saddled with the worst lawyers”. This is true, Smith, Brawner, and Woods were all on death row. They all had terrible childhoods and experienced physical abuse from the people the trusted the most. All of the men were physically abused by their parents, and two of them were just abused by their dad.

In conclusion, the death penalty should not be legal in no state. Reforming criminals is the best way, killing them off will not solve anything. Reforming as in helping them and not killing them. Each and every one of the prisoners who are on death row has a different story. Some have been abused or some have mental issues.

Although the crimes they committed are not right, a death sentence won’t help them know what they did is wrong and how to better themself as a person. A punishment will be given, as in life imprisonment. This paper was not to let them off but to help them, put them in programs or medical facilities until their mental state is well enough. Some people’s lives are better than others, some people have a good childhood and some have bad childhoods. Physically and mentally abused or some grow up watching their siblings and mothers get abused.

No one deserves to die because they kill someone else, they deserve to sit and think about what they have done. Sometimes thinking about it and being reminded of it everyday is the worst punishment of them all. As mentioned above, suicide occurs often in prisoners on death row. Everyday they sit and think about what they have done and the thought of them losing their life to a lethal injection or the electric chair drives them crazy. It affect their mental state.

Everyone deserves a second chance, even if it’s not getting out of jail completely. Being able to get up everyday and not have to think or wonder when you’re going to die is a second chance. Getting the chance to actually better yourself, get yourself into programs that can help better you as a person is a second chance. Going to a medical facility , taking medicine, talking to someone who can help you on your mental issues is a second chance and everyone deserves one. Throw the death penalty out. It should not be legal, there are different ways, let’s take them.

The late great Marvin Gaye said, “ For only love, can conquer hate”.                           

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